Monday, March 17, 2008

North-of-Montana developer distress

Driving by this construction site at 607 26th Street (the east / Brentwood side, north of Montana) last week, something looked wrong. Like an abandoned project. No workers, leaning fence, weathered wood. The County doesn't list a sale in the last 2 years, but recorded a value of $1,797K on 5/4/06.

Then there's this 5 bed / 6 bath new house at 333 14th Street, originally listed 6/29/07 for $4,888K, now down to $4,195K nearly 9 months later, much longer than most other listings.

"New Const 'Mediterranean Masterpiece' designed by J. Charles.5bd, 6ba. Stunning entry w/step down liv rm,wide plank walnut hwd flrs, & a study.Frml din rm w/butlers pantry.Fam rm w/fr doors that open to grassy yard. Gourmet kit w/ custom cabinets,stone counters,pro stainless appl & breakfast area. Mstr ste w/spa like bath,his & her closets 3 addtl en-suite bds. Full basement w/bar area,media rm,office,maids rm & climate controlled wine cellar.Finest detail,design & finishes.Wired for todays tech..."

After 1990, distress in selling new spec houses cut the value of lower-end houses. Is this beginning to happen again?


lap2 said...

607 26th Street - the last I know, this was foreclosed on late last year and the attempt was made to sell it in the trustee auction. I don't know the end result of it but it definitely looks like it may still be owned by the bank.

Anonymous said...

607 26th st. was supposed to come up to trustee's sale way back last aug. 2007. Of its 4 mortgages totalling $3.521 mil. (more appraisal fraud here), #3 was foreclosing. Apparently owner has succeeded in stalling the sale? Or, what's the point at this stage? It's a huge loss for #3 if they get it: their $550K loan was behind #2: $1,550,000, behind first mortgage at $808K. And # 4 will never see a dime of the $663K loan also made in 2006. OUCH!!!

Anonymous said...

This is not the only one....

Look at the other middle stage 'developments', especially in the Gillette Regents' Square area (17th Street-21rst St; Montana to San Vicente) area around 10AM.

At least one other development has few ( or often no) workers around.

The GRS part of NOM is the most desirable property in Santa Monica. Although one never knows the financial condition of others, the new developments are (finally?) struggling for financing to completion. In other words, the top end is not immune, only late. Look at Bear Stearns. Nobody would have guessed that its fair market value was $2.

Probably , the suspended properties are not yet in foreclosure or their shell companies in bankruptcy. Just out of funds, likely with overburdened developers, waiting to try to pull in money. It is likely that the construction that is suspended will start deteriorating.

The developers have already cut back. Who will buy a modestly constructed McMansion that has been in the elements for months without being taken care of?

If unfinished interior has gotten significantly wet in the rains, think of the potential for mold litigation...

Still there are probably 15 or so that are active that are in good shape with workers and funding. THey will rush to beat each other to market..

rosebud said...

Are there any stats for the percentage of development deals that dry up during "healthy" times? i.e. with the Northern SM inventory still around 3 dozen, and tons of development moving forward, these few examples may not be indicative of a trend in this area yet...

dlp said...

You might want to dig up some of the pictures of unfinished construction sites in Thailand left over from their 1997 crash. I need to start taking photos of sites that have been cleared or begun, but I bet will now come to a grinding halt all over the westside. (Marina del Rey has plenty, there's that space on Rose in Venice which used to be a landmark bakery, Playa Vista -- well I bet that isn't going to finish...)

Wooster said...

Yeah, Thailand seems relevant to north SM, or the US for that matter.

If construction has started, whether it be remodel or new build, you should see movement/completion at some point in the near future. There is already money committed, likely in the form of debt. As the distress hits some form of revaluation will occur and the capital structure gets in line to see who gets saved. It takes awhile, but at some point enough loss is realized that someone can step in, recapitalize, and make it a deal.

On the other hand, if shovels haven't hit the dirt it can languish for a lot longer because there is less pressure.

joe contractor said...

Has anyone with access to real estate stats created a graph showing average westside sales prices compared to LA sale prices (as a whole) over the past year or so? This would be very interesting to see. An unscientific survey of Dataquick sales stats suggests that the prime westside zipcodes have been flatlining over the last 6-8 months, while LA has been going down the tubes. It would be nice to see some balance to the conclusions drawn by this website's agenda, which are based on marginal and poorly located properties.

Anonymous said...

"It would be nice to see some balance to the conclusions drawn by this website's agenda, which are based on marginal and poorly located properties."

Yeah, like the one at 333 14th, which is one marginal, poorly located property.

Westside Bubble said...

average westside sales prices compared to LA sale prices (as a whole) over the past year or so? ... An unscientific survey of Dataquick sales stats suggests that the prime westside zipcodes have been flatlining over the last 6-8 months, while LA has been going down the tubes

That's hard to do with median prices by zipcode, which is why I've used north-of-Montana lot value as an index.

I agree with your general conclusion. I see that basically flat since the fall of 2005, with a short bump up and down mid last year.

(But hey, the outlier properties are more entertaining to highlight.)

Thanks for the additional info, lap2 and anon.

Good question, rosebud; I don't have any.

joe contractor said...

Thanks for your honesty (and sense of humor), WB. I agree the NoMo teardowns are a good index. But entertainment aside, wouldn't a more varied sample give a better read on the future? Beverly Hills flats, which I know is a completely different demographic; Venice walkstreets (Milwood area, the most expensive land per sq. ft in LA), highly desirable and all identical lot sizes; and even Sunset Park. Increased sample size would provide more accurate data.

Here's the question that many of us are thinking: Is the prime westside just 'lagging behind' the rest of nation? If so, by how much? Or is there something special about these neighborhoods(and others like Manhattan NYC) that makes them recession-resistant? Many of us that waited for a housing correction to occur are now drooling at the prospect of steep discounts so that we can get into the market. I'd hate to think that this wishful thinking may have affected our economic sensibilities.

Anonymous said...


thanks for your insightful comments.

i have a question - the nicest place to live in manhattan beach is near the pier - the neighborhood, known as the south end walk streets west of highland, is today seeing land sales at $40 million an acre.

Basically, the lots that are 13th of an acre are selling for $3 million each (these are not waterfront lots, just normal house lots)

i have constantly been told that this $40 million an acre price tag makes this the highest non waterfront price for single family lots in all of of southern california - higher than balboa island non waterfront lots, higher than la jolla non waterfront lots.

now your above comment makes it sound like the venice milwood streets are very highly priced as well

but with all due respect - is milwood at $40 million an acre or more ?>

Anonymous said...

By the way, i do not wish to be flamed, and i want to state that i am not "bullish" on land at $40 million an acre, i am not advocating that anyone buy at that price.
I am simply asking how the $40 million an acre price in manhattan beach compares to other prime neighborhoods

Westside Bubble said...


Good questions but limited answers. I tried this for Sunset Park last October with less clear results than north of Montana.

I don't really know Beverly Hills and Venice, and gathering historic data is time-consuming.

I can say, using the north-of-Montana index, that Santa Monica prices fell around 25% from 1990-96, and suggested in November why this time won't be different.

joe contractor said...

I am simply asking how the $40 million an acre price in manhattan beach compares to other prime neighborhoods......

Go look at Dataquick for per sq. foot lot prices for southern California. 90291 (venice) is usually at the top, often sharing that honor with Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, West Hollywood and occasionally Brentwood.
Milwood section of Venice, along with the canal area and the beachfront area, are always the most expensive in that zipcode.
Teardowns in the Milwood walkstreets sell for about 1.0 million, the lot size is 37 x 90 which is 3330sq. feet,which is about $13m per acre.

Anonymous said...

Yes, $40 million an acre is a lot and I don't think you'll find it in other locations for single family homes. I can assure, however, that if you found a lot that were, say 11,000 SF in the walk streets, you would not get the full $10 million.

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